From the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports, October 19,2009
          
Against the backdrop of the East Coast’s largest trade complex, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker on Sunday jointly announced their support of the Port of Los Angeles’ Clean Truck Program, the nation’s most successful program ever for reducing toxic truck emissions. Their endorsement before dozens of local port drivers, community residents, environmental advocates and labor leaders included a call for Congress to ensure an obsolete law cannot be used to roll back LA’s clean-air progress or deter other ports from following suit.
 
“For too long we’ve been offered a false choice between economic growth and environmental sustainability,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “From our Million Trees program to our Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, we have proven in New York City that we can provide economic opportunities while advancing our environmental goals.  Today, I am calling on Congress to support legislation that will empower ports to implement the LA Clean Truck Program, an innovative initiative that will create good, green jobs and improve the quality of the air that New Yorkers breathe.”
 
Big-city mayors on both coasts have now pushed for changes to federal law to remove any doubt that local officials have the legal authority to address the market failures that have spiked public health and poverty statistics to crisis proportions and have earned America’s seaports the notorious reputation as the place “where old trucks go to die.”
 
Earlier this week Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums also expressed his willingness to educate Congress on the need to amend the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, the arcane 20th century statute that the Beltway-based American Trucking Association has argued in court preempts critical components of the green-growth model developed under the leadership of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
 
“Newark’s residents and port workers disproportionately bear hazards from pollution caused by outdated diesel trucks that transfer cargo shipments,” said Mayor Booker. “I applaud the Port Authority efforts to enhance air quality such as their program to replace over 600 of the oldest most polluting trucks with newer models, but much more needs to be done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. I urge Congress to support changes in federal legislation that would enhance the ability of our nation’s ports to effectuate policies to improve air quality and protect public health.”
 
The LA Clean Truck program transfers the responsibility for reducing air pollution from low-wage workers to companies that legitimately employ their drivers and invest in and maintain clean, green trucks. In exchange, the firms are awarded powerful financial incentives and access to the terminal gates. In 12 months, small and large companies alike have seen the economic advantages of environmental stewardship, and have invested over $500 million in low-emission fleets. Nearly 6,000 new clean-burning vehicles are on Southern California’s roads, moving nearly 70 percent of all cargo – three years ahead of schedule to meet emission-reduction targets.
 
But advocates who want these benefits replicated at ports nationwide warn that the long-term sustainability of the plan is threatened and the new clean trucks of today will become dirty again in a few years because the American Trucking Association recently obtained a temporary injunction against key provisions of the Clean Truck Program on appeal. Evidence shows this has resulted in trucking companies shifting financial responsibility and maintenance of the clean-technology fleet to individual contract drivers, significantly decreasing their already low pay of $10 an hour to minimum wage with no health insurance.
 
“I am proud to stand with the Mayors Bloomberg and Booker today to call on our elected leaders in Washington to update the antiquated motor carrier act so we can clean up this dirty, inefficient industry once and for all,” said James P. Hoffa, General President of the  Teamsters, the nation’s largest transportation union. “Ports need the clear authority to implement 21st Century policies that will protect workers and the environment so we can pave the way for future, green growth that creates good jobs.”
 
Amy Goldsmith, the state director of the New Jersey Environmental Federation, agreed.
 
“We must have a federal framework that allows local port authorities to implement market-based solutions to replicate LA’s clean-air successes on both coasts and create a level-playing field for responsible business ready to compete and grow in a green economy.”
 
Goldsmith’s organization is part of a nationwide alliance of over 100 organizations known as the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports on the West Coast, and the Coalition for Healthy Ports on the Eastern Seaboard. The direct link between pollution and poverty at our ports has united groups as diverse as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma, the Teamsters, the American Lung Association of California, the Church Council of Greater Seattle, the Sierra Club, For a Better Bronx, and GreenFaith.
 
In addition to the mayors in California, New York and New Jersey, the LA Clean Truck Program has received public endorsements from then-Senator Barack Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, 31 House California Democrats; Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NJ); and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ); and New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine.
 
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the Port of Oakland have also joined the Port of Los Angeles to educate Congress about the tools they need to meet and sustain federal clean-air standards.

 
For more information:
The Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports is a partnership of environmental, public health, community, labor and faith organizations that promote sustainable economic development at West Coast ports. We are working to make the port trucking system a less polluting, more competitive generator of good quality jobs for harbor-area residents. The Coalition for Healthy Ports is the sister alliance working to create cleaner, greener ports in New York and New Jersey. We are over 100 organizations strong nationwide.

Valerie Lapin, Communications Director, valerie.lapin@changetowin.org
Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports, Oakland
www.oakland.cleanandsafeports.org
 
 

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